Immigration News

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RIR Conversion Guidelines For BEC Cases Expected Soon

Members of this firm recently attended a teleconference in which it was announced that the DOL would soon be publishing new procedures for conversion of traditional cases at the backlog centers to the RIR option. One of the presenters in the teleconference had just attended a meeting with the DOL and obtained some preliminary information on the new procedures.

Though the following has not yet been confirmed by any official announcement, it is expected that the new procedures will require notification to the BEC of the intention to convert to RIR. The BEC will then respond with the required wage and recruitment instructions. Those instructions are expected to include one print ad placement and one item from the menu of alternative recruitment strategies under PERM, the new labor certification process in place since April, 2005. There may be a date certain by which the conversion request must be received at the BEC or face case closure.

by SCwpadmin SCwpadmin 28 Comments

USCIS Reaches H-2B Cap For First Half of Fiscal Year 2007

USCIS announced on December 5, 2006 that it had received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the first six months of Fiscal Year 2007. November 28, 2006 was the “final receipt date” for new H-2B worker petitions requesting employment start dates prior to April 1, 2007. The “final receipt date” was the date on which USCIS determined that it had received enough cap-subject petitions to reach the limit of
33,000 H-2B workers for the first half of FY 2007.

USCIS will apply a computer-generated random selection process to all petitions which are subject to the cap and were received on November 28, 2006. This process will select the number of petitions needed to meet the cap. USCIS will reject all cap-subject petitions not randomly selected. USCIS will also reject petitions for new H-2B workers seeking employment start dates prior to April 1, 2007 that arrive after November 28, 2006. USCIS will continue to accept petitions for new H-2B workers seeking employment start dates on or after April 1, 2007 that arrive after the “final receipt date” only if such petitions are supported by a valid temporary labor certification.

Petitions for workers who are currently in H-2B status and returning H-2B workers do not count towards the congressionally mandated bi-annual H-2B cap. “Returning workers” are exempt from H-2B cap limitations. In order to qualify, the worker must have counted against the H-2B numerical cap between October 1, 2003 and September 30, 2006. Any worker not certified as a “returning worker” is subject to the numerical limitations for the relevant fiscal year. Petitions received after the “final receipt date” which contain a combination of “returning workers” and workers subject to the H-2B cap will be rejected with respect to non-returning workers. Petitioning employers will receive partial approvals for those aliens who qualify as “returning workers” if otherwise approvable.

USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to:

• Extend the stay of a current H-2B worker in the United States;
• Change the terms of employment for current H-2B workers and extend their stay;
• Allow current H-2B workers to change or add employers and extend their stay; or
• Request eligible H-2B “returning workers.”

More information about the H-2B work program is available at or by calling the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

by SCwpadmin SCwpadmin 48 Comments

Congress Extends Availability of Visas for Nurses to Work in Underserved Areas

On 12/6/06, the Senate passed the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Reauthorization Act of 2005 (H.R. 1285). Passed by House on 6/20/06, the bill extends for three years the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act of 1999, which provides for up to 500 foreign nurses to come to the U.S. annually on H-1C visas to work in medically underserved areas.

Information provided by AILA.

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USCIS Expands Premium Processing Program

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced the expansion of the premium processing to include certain employer petitions, beginning August 28, 2006. Premium Processing allows petitioners to pay an additional $1,000 filing fee in exchange for 15-calendar-day processing of the case.

Beginning August 28, 2006, employers filing immigrant petitions on form I-140 for Professionals and Skilled Workers in the EB-3 category. “Professionals” are defined as individuals with a bachelor’s degree who are members of the professions, and “Skilled Workers” are those defined as those capable of performing skilled labor requiring at least two years of education, training or experience. Only individuals with I-140 petitions in these categories will be eligible to participate in the premium processing program.

Please note that Premium Processing will not be available for petitions in the EB-2 category, or for “Other Workers” in the EB-3 category.

by SCwpadmin SCwpadmin 26 Comments

Glitch at BEC Results in Erroneous Labor Certification Withdrawals

A recent glitch at DOL resulted in the withdrawal of some pending Traditional and RIR labor certification applications at the BECs if a PERM was filed or approved for the same employer and employee, even if question 1A on the PERM application was answered “no”. Some received notices of the withdrawals, and others did not but are showing up in the case status system as “withdrawn”.

The DOL is working on resetting all these cases, except the ones where question 1A on the PERM application was answered “yes”, and expects to finish the process by November 30, 2006. It is unlikely that reset cases will show up on the system as corrected until November 30.
DOL states that the reset cases will be returned to their former places in the processing queue and that original priority dates will be retained.

DOL asks that, if you have one of these cases, you please refrain from inquiring with them until December 1. If, as of December 1, your case is still showing withdrawn, a mechanism will be worked out to address it. DOL is also asking that, if you have one of these cases, you NOT check the case status system until December 1, as the volume of checks has become quite high as the result of this problem and there is concern that the system will crash.
DOL will shortly issue an announcement regarding this problem and the solution, which will address, among other things, what to do with any ETA 750 forms that were returned in connection with the erroneous withdrawals.

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification has received reports that some employers/attorneys were sent back an original 750 with the inadvertent withdrawal. Since the Backlog Elimination Centers (BECs) have a second original 750 for these cases, the case will continue to be processed. The employer/attorney does not have to take any action at this time. In the unlikely event that the BEC requires the first original 750, the employer/attorney will be notified.”

Information provided by AILA.